Syracuse basketball community rallies around Pearl Washington as medical costs rise


January 22, 2016 0 Comments

Syracuse, N.Y. — A Go Fund Me campaign is underway to defray rising medical and living costs for former Syracuse basketball great Pearl Washington.

Washington, perhaps the most beloved player in Orange history, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last summer. Recently discharged from renowned cancer center Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City, his condition has necessitated a move from his third-floor walk-up apartment and has generated additional medical expenses, his friend Mark Finney said.

"He needs 24-hour supervision and they have to pay for an aide out-of-pocket," Finney said.

Finney disputed a report circulating on social media Thursday that Washington needed a wheelchair to navigate. The former point guard is able to walk with assistance or supervision, Finney said. He is currently being treated with oral chemotherapy.

"The family is remaining very hopeful and praying that he has a full recovery," Finney said, "even though he's facing medical challenges."

The day after Washington and other former Syracuse players were celebrated in a Dec. 19 halftime presentation during the Cornell game, Washington was admitted to Crouse Hospital for what Finney termed "complications from the brain tumor."

He stayed at Crouse until Dec. 25, when he was transferred to Sloan Kettering.

Washington was discharged from Sloan Kettering on Tuesday. He and his fiancée, Debra Busacco, are currently making arrangements for a more comfortable living situation that does not require he climb six flights of stairs. Funds are needed, too, to transport Washington to and from his medical appointments.

Finney, who lives in Central New York, visited with Washington and Busacco last week and speaks daily with Washington.

"His sense of humor is intact," Finney said, "and he gets very emotional when he hears the support and love he's surrounded with."

Brandon Steiner, CEO of Steiner Sports, started the Go Fund Me page Thursday at about 3 p.m. By late Friday morning, the campaign had generated $7,800 in donations, said Steiner Sports marketing coordinator Matt Rose.

Steiner had been in touch with Washington and Busacco and learned of the former SU star's need for financial support, Rose said. The campaign has set a goal of $62,000.

"I think right now the goal is raising as much money for Pearl as we can as quickly as possible," Rose said. "A lot of people care about Pearl. A lot of people love Pearl."

Other things coming together to raise awareness and raise money for Washington include a T-shirt and possibly an orange wristband sale. Steiner, Syracuse basketball assistant coach Mike Hopkins and former Orange forward John Wallace will host a 1 p.m. Monday live video streamed Q&A on Facebook to interact with fans and appraise supporters of the #PrayersforPearl fundraising effort, Rose said.

"We certainly appreciate the great support from the Syracuse community and the Orange family," Finney said. "The phone calls, the Facebook messages are all very appreciated."

This article originally appeared on Syracuse.com.




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